Muqtedar Khan, The Huffington Post
The month of February is celebrated as Black History Month in America. It is also during this month that Malcolm X, an African American Muslim minister and civil rights activist, died in 1965. His legacy is important for Muslims and non-Muslims alike — and one that has influenced many American Muslims, including myself.
One cannot reflect on the condition of African American communities in the United States without being confronted by the intensity of black suffering. In the world’s richest nation, poverty rates are higher among black Americans than other groups. Despite the historic fact of having a black president in the White House, black Americans are often politically marginalized . Consider, for instance, the fact there are no African Americans in the U.S. Senate. All of which leads us to believe that, when it comes to racial injustice, we are still at the beginning of America’s redemption.
The story of Malcolm X’s life is well known. He was born to parents who were civil rights activists, but after his father’s death and his mother’s hospitalization in a mental institution, he became embroiled in a life of petty crime. He then went to prison and found religion, identity and purpose in the form of the Nation of Islam (NOI), a Muslim movement that emphasized black liberation and black separation from whites. Malcolm’s transformation from a small-time hustler to a nationally renowned black Muslim is in itself a story of triumph in the face of social, cultural and structural adversity.